Read More →
I cringe every time I think about it, and at times it’s hard to believe, but over the past few months I’ve finally come to accept the following: I am a senior in college.As frightening as it might feel to be graduating in just seven months, there’s one thing that makes me feel extremely fortunate to be part of the class of 2015 — I was lucky enough to witness the 50-0 game in person.It was my freshman year, and the first year that the NCAA imposed sanctions on USC. The sanctions ignited a certain passion in Trojan fans, so we celebrated each win with extra vigor — especially the wins at Notre Dame and Oregon. Heading into the season finale against the Bruins, the Trojans sported a 9-2 record, and golden boy Matt Barkley had put together a record-setting season.The UCLA game was nothing short of perfect. Barkley threw for six touchdowns in what many assumed would be the last game he ever played at USC, in front of the crowd of 93,000. The moon shone over the beautiful 50-0 scoreboard and the Olympic Torch burned bright next to it. Students felt pure elation.But as great as the 50-0 win felt, next year’s trip to the Rose Bowl felt equally as awful. As rain fell and the clock ticked down, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr sacked Barkley, and the Trojan nation held its breath — and held back tears — as Barkley stayed down.Last year’s loss to UCLA incited no feeling at all in me, just numbness, as the Bruins beat the Trojans 35-14 at the Coliseum to secure their first consecutive wins against USC since 1997-1998. UCLA fans roared that they finally owned L.A., and it appeared the rivalry was no longer one-sided.So who really has the upper hand in L.A.? The team that absolutely demolished the other three years ago? Or the team that’s won the last two meetings? It’s a back-and-forth that all rivalries go through. Fans of one team will point to the overall series record. Fans of the other might point to one significant game. Heading into the Crosstown Cup, I’ll take the time to present both sides of the argument.Yes, UCLA has won the last two meetings, but USC has won seven of the last 10, if you include the two wins vacated by the NCAA. From 1991-1998, UCLA won eight consecutive meetings, the longest streak in the series. USC responded by rattling off seven straight wins from 1999-2005. Dating back to 1929 — a game which USC won 76-0 — the Trojans lead the all-time series 46-30-7 (or 44-30-7 if you don’t want to count the vacated wins in 2004 and 2005).Aside from that, there are the Heisman and national championship conversations. USC had produced seven Heisman trophy winners: Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Charles White, Marcus Allen, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. UCLA fans are quick to point out, though, that one of those Heismans was taken away and one belongs to a man who was charged with murder.But how many Heisman winners can UCLA claim? One.Let’s look at national championships, too. USC has won 11 national championships in football.How many national championships can UCLA claim? One.That just about ends the conversation for me.USC and UCLA share a special rivalry — no other teams in the same city have such perennially relevant athletic programs. The prestigious academics of each institution lend themselves to the rivalry being a respectful one as well, which many rivalries across the country cannot claim (though I was happy to see that Florida students express their support for Florida State students following the tragic shooting on their campus Wednesday night).Here in L.A., there’s no question that historically USC is the superior football program. My question is whether fans and students can continue to fall back on history.If USC doesn’t win on Saturday, it’s time for the 50-0 bragging to stop. We need to live in the moment. Trust me, reveling in the joy of beating UCLA is a much better feeling than citing the Trojans’ all-time record against the Bruins.Hopefully the seniors on the team have the same desire to finish their careers 2-2 against UCLA rather than 1-3.Let’s legitimize that graffiti that somehow ended up on UCLA’s Bruin Statue last week: ’SC runs L.A.Aubrey Kragen is a senior majoring in communication. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Release the Kragen,” runs Fridays.